Age does not matter anymore in sports. For many years in sports when a player reached hit late 30s to early 40s, many people around the sport would be calling for that athlete to retire. That thinking has changed as many people feel that an athlete should retire when they do not have a passion for the game they love anymore.
The subject of age is being brought up in the NHL during this free agency period. Two more 40-yeard old players will have signed with NHL teams this offseason. First Ray Whitney decided to come back for another season, followed by Martin Brodeur resigning for two more years, and now Teemu Selanne and Jaromir Jagr are coming back for another season.
Teemu Selanne announced last week the he was far from finished with hockey, and that he was not feeling his age. The 42-year old Selanne agreed to a one-year $4.5 million deal with the Ducks to return for the 20th NHL season of his remarkable career.
After the Ducks season ended without a playoff appearance, Selanne told reporters during the Ducks locker room cleanout day that he would need to take some time to make his decision about retirement or come back for one more year.
Selanne announced this decision while he was on vacation, He said, “Sometimes age is just a number. Age is a funny thing. A lot of the times, I don’t really feel 42. It’s just a number. It all depends on how you feel.”
Selanne has a remarkable 19-year career so far, and he has been dubbed the Finnish Flash. Selanne is the 19th-leading scorer in NHL history with 1,406 points in two decades, spent mostly in Anaheim, his home for parts of 13 seasons. He is 12th in league history with 663 goals, and has a chance to crack the top ten with another strong season.
Last season, Selanne as a 41-year old had 66 points, only Gordie Howe has more points as a 41-year old. Selanne has accomplished his dream of winning the Stanley Cup in 2007 with the Anaheim Ducks. Since that season he has been considering retirement, but after playing all 82 games last season without injury, why not come back for one more year.
Another player that will be returning to the NHL for another season as a 40-year old is Jaromir Jagr. Jagr signed a one-year $4.55 million deal to play with the Dallas Stars next season. Jagr had many suitors during free agency, but the Stars went after him aggressively and plan to give number 68 a big role.
Jagr played with the Philadelphia Flyers last season having thoughts of returning there, but decided to test the market to see his market value. Jagr produced 54 points as a member of the Flyers last season following a three year hiatus in Russia. Jagr played with Flyers superstar Claude Giroux and both of their skills developed nicely.
Stars General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk hopes the same thing will happen when he plays with Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson. Nieuwendyk believes that Jagr still is a world class player and has a lot left in the tank. Jagr has proven he can make a team better in one season, and he could be the piece the Stars are looking for to get back into the playoffs.
Jagr over his career has compiled quite a resume. He is a two-time Stanley Cup Champion, five time scoring champions, sits eighth on the all time points list with 1,653 and 11th on the all time goals list with 665. Jagr has played 1,346 games with Pittsburgh, Washington, the Rangers and Philadelphia in over his 19 years.
One of the keys to Jagr’s success is his work ethic and durability. Jagr has been pretty much injury free for most of his career, but had to deal with a nagging groin last season with the Flyers. Jagr was given a key to Flyers practice facility, where he would let himself in for serious workouts in the middle of the night.
“Even at 40, he’s a difficult guy to contain,” said Nieuwendyk. “He’s still as good as anybody in the league at using that big body of his down low. He still keeps himself in tremendous shape… I think he’s going to be a real good fit with our group.”
Note: Selanne could be the oldest player in the league this upcoming season if Dwayne Roloson, who is nine months older than Selanne, remains unsigned. Dominick Hasek at the age of 47 is considering making a comeback in the NHL.